Travel internationally without leaving NoVA

You don’t need a plane ticket to experience diverse cultures.

To Sok Jip
To Sok Jip / Photo by Rey Lopez

Northern Virginia has been a nexus for many immigrant communities. It comes as no surprise, then, that there are businesses and events celebrating those communities. Retaining a connection to traditions, language and food is important to members within those communities, but it also allows those outside of them to experience a diverse set of cultures.

Korea

Currently, more than 41,000 ethnic Koreans call Fairfax County home. There are so many Korean businesses in Annandale alone that a stretch of Little River Turnpike has been nicknamed Koreatown. Of course, there are a staggering number of Korean restaurants, including Kogiya Korean BBQ, To Sok Jip and Yechon, the latter of which is open 24/7. There’s also an annual Korean culture festival, the Korus Festival, which will take place this year from Sept. 23-25 and will feature K-pop groups, a talent show and food stalls (including those selling Korean rice wine). And you can find authentic Korean foods at grocery stores like H Mart and Lotte Plaza, which have multiple locations in Fairfax, Springfield and Annandale. They are packed with imported products from Korea—along with Japan and China—that are hard to find anywhere else.

South Asia

The Heritage India Festival & Diwali Celebration coming to Chantilly this October will consist of a wide variety of South Asian street food and delicacies. There will also be family-friendly performances from musicians and dancing groups based in the D.C. area. And if you’re in the market for unique South Asian-style jewelry or a sari, head to Sonja Jewelry and Bridal in Herndon.

Vietnam

VietFest, a celebration of all things Vietnam, is recurring every August and will once again allow patrons to participate in a pho-eating contest, vote for Mr. VietFest, see a customary Vietnamese lion dance and observe a traditional Vietnamese wedding parade procession. And Eden Center in Falls Church is a destination for all things Vietnamese: bubble tea, banh mi, Asian herbs and, of course, a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants and even a karaoke café called Le Mirage. And you can learn more about the Vietnamese community’s history in Northern Virginia by taking the Echoes of Little Saigon audio walking tour (downloadable online) in Clarendon. With your smartphone, you can scan QR codes on storefronts along the tour and see archival photos and learn more.

Latin America

The Manassas Latino Festival at Harris Pavilion in Old Town Manassas will be held on Sept. 24, and among its many performances there will be a traditional Costa Rican dance performance, a mariachi band, a free Zumba class and a performance by the vocal group Las Chicas Sabor Tropical. And in Alexandria and Arlington, there are several ethnic markets such as El Paisa Grocery, which offers Latino foods and coffee as well as delicacies like pupusas.

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